In attempting to decide to file for Federal Disability Retirement Benefits, it is often the case that Social Security disability benefits must be considered (not just “considered”, obviously, for FERS employees, because it is a requirement to file for it), and how seriously and vigorously; and further, whether to pursue, or to continue on, OWCP temporary total disability benefits. These are “paradigms” that must be considered for the future. By “paradigm”, I mean that they represent “models” of how a person wants his or her future to be based upon.
For instance, let’s take the paradigm of Social Security disability benefits. Because FERS employees who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must also file for Social Security disability benefits (to see if they qualify; and, if qualified, the offsetting features will apply), one must take into consideration whether or not a Federal or Postal employee will actually want Social Security disability benefits. This question arises because Social Security has a “cap” in which a person who receives Social Security disability benefits can make ancillary earned income (roughly no more than $16,000 per year in 2021).
Because of this, one must think of the future paradigm of one’s life: If a person on FERS Disability Retirement wants to go out and get a part-time job, or start on a path for another career, where he or she makes 15, 20, 25,000 per year or more (because remember, a person can make up to 80% of what a person’s former Federal or Postal job currently pays), then he or she may not want to get Social Security disability benefits.
Most people who are on Federal disability retirement are simply disabled from performing one or more of the essential elements of the particular job; they are not “totally disabled”, and therefore are able to go out and start a second career. This is the “paradigm” for the future which must be considered, and such a model for the future must be carefully thought through. Next: the OWCP paradigm.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer